I live in Newark New Jersey right now. I’ve been here for years and I like it. It's a city still rising from the ashes of the riots of the 1960's that happened in cities all over America, ignited by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, urban blight, and years of neglect, That's not the whole story though, it's also a beautiful city with great history, architecture, community, heart and soul. It's on the "come-up". I like the underdogs generally. While I claim Newark, I was born and raised, in one of my favorite cities in the world, Washington, D.C. D.C. will always be home to me. It’s a special place. There’s so much more to it than government and politics. It’s an international city with a lot of flavors and a deep vein of North Carolinian country charm. For me, it’s Black America’s capital as well. It’s Grandmommy, and Sunday waffles made with squeeze Parkay margarine, it’s the after school snack- fresh made churros from, Churerria Madrid off Columbia Road, it’s the neighborhood I grew up in, Adams-Morgan, my grade school, Oyster Bilingual Elementary, my parent's alma mater Howard University, Wilson High School, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Go-go Music, it’s Guyanese curry and roti, the Kennedy Center, pink collar church ladies with good values, it’s educated, worldly black folks informed, knowledgable and proud, carrying the torch for the next generation and living well while doing it. It's that dude dancing like no one is watching in front of the E2 bus stop on Military road. Incidentally, at that same bus stop, there was this friendly, soft-spoken, guy who used to ask me about my day and tell me funny stories. I never forgot him, his name was Dave Chapelle. It's being a child of the 70's, believing that we can all do something great with our lives and have a sense of meaning and purpose. My backstory.
I always pause for a second when people ask me what I do, because it really does depend on the day of the week. Truthfully, that's exactly how I like it. I need variety and I crave new experiences. I’m definitely a singer and a musician 24/7, but sometimes I’m a writer and producer, sometimes I’m and actor and voice over artist, and more and more, I'm a video producer and interviewer. Then other times, I’m a sort of an entertainment coordinator and strategist., producing project for other people and themed events.
For over 20 years, I’ve made music. For the first 10 years, as part of the three singer front line of D'Tripp, the Sly inspired, funk/rock group that was my passion project in New York City. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked predominantly as a solo artist and as the lead singer of the band Screaming Headless Torsos up until my departure from the group in 2017.
I’ve released solo records under my name and Houseofreedom and been featured on many collaborations with other artists like Moby, DJ Lenny Fontana, DJ Shato & Rockseek and Troker, Radical Thought Resistance, NightCaller, and Hey Tu to name a few. My career has been built creating stories of different kinds through song, voice over, commercials, cartoons, video games, and theater. By virtue of moving to New York over two decades ago, I’ve been able to do what I do with some of the most talented musicians and artists in the world. That’s the other thing I do, I play well with others. I’m not so good at doing it by myself. Get me in a room of talented people with a vision and then I get excited, then the juices start flowing and my work begins. "What' story are we telling and how are we going to do it?" So what now? Well.... now I want to do something in television. More to come on that later. I promise.
If this is all a little too esoteric for you, then let’s try this: I had a very happy childhood and a wonderful life in growing up in Washington, D.C. After high school , I went to culinary School ( where you learn to be a chef) in Baltimore, Maryland. I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor and thought I should have a secure back-up skill to get me through the lean times. I always loved to cook. (Sidebar, I no longer believe in "Plan B's". I think if you have a passion, and a "Plan A", I believe you need to devote yourself entirely to it. If you truly need a Plan B, life will provide that for you. but anything less than complete commitment to your passion in the moment your feeling it, robs you off the opportunity to truly make it happen. My two cents.....). Back to the Culinary School /Acting school plan.....my parents were down with it. So I graduated from Culinary School in Baltimore MD, and came immediately to New York to train at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I loved it. I have never loved any school that much, before or since.
I also loved the musicians I kept running into in the West Village at the open mic nights and jam sessions, and before I knew it, we had started a band called D’Tripp that would be my home for over a decade. Touring the East Coast of the U.S. and much of Europe, we were a part of the 90's NY indie scene along with bands like Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler, The Second Step and Joan Osbourne. We played a lot of gigs. I mean a lot of gigs.... maybe too many gigs actually, and recorded one album, "The Plaid Album". I learned a lot. With D'Tripp, I learned what live performance is really all about. It's about creating experiences and memories for the audience, nothing more. It's not about perfection in performance, it is however about giving it your all.
D'tripp came to an end somewhere around 2000, and I set about finding my voice as a solo artist, and produced my first solo album, Houseofreedom, the EP Sessions. I also got lucky, really lucky, and was featured on a song by Moby called “At Least We Tried”. That led to collaborations with producers in the dance and electronic music world. Around the same time the already well known Screaming Headless Torsos was re-grouping and looking for a new singer for a festival in Italy. I auditioned and got the gig. My first show with the Torsos was a warm up gig in a legendary club in New York called "The Cooler" . The club was located in the meat packing district before the area gentrified and the packing of meat ceased. The club was actually a converted meat locker. My second gig with the Torsos was one week later in an ancient amphitheater in Tivoli Italy, a city outside of Rome, that had been occupied by the ancient Greeks at one point. I was surrounded by die-hard Italian Torsos fans who knew every lyric and every nuance of S.H.T's music. They rushed the stage and welcomed me.
I will never forget it. They didn't care that I was not the guy on the records, and the rest is history. Also around the same time, I took a chance and went on a television singing competition called Star Search, hosted by Arsenio Hall. I grew up with an earlier version of Star Search as a kid hosted by Jonny Carson's former sidekick Ed McMahon. I had never done a singing contest anywhere and my first one was in front of a TV audience of 15 million people. Truth is, I don't actually believe in singing competitions, but I thought the video footage would be great. Here again, I got lucky, very lucky. I came in second place was invited back the next year and "won" a record deal on A&M records which allowed me to release my first single on a major label single "Cuddly Toy".
All kinds of interesting things have happened in between and the rest you can find on Wikipedia….I think...well... maybe. Feel free to write me with any questions, I'm happy to share a story. Peace.
D'tripp, New York City, circa 1997
Dortmund Germany, with Screaming Headless Torsos 2001
Star Search, Los Angeles 2003
New York City, St. Mark's Place 2005
Sala Razzmatazz, Barcelona, 2016